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Will 2011 Be Safer in Our Public Schools?

Imagine the fourth largest city in the U.S. protecting its students, faculty and staff from discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. That may come to fruition when the school board votes in August to extend its nondiscrimination policy. On first reading, the board voted 7-0 in favor of the policy, with just two board members not present.

If it does pass, school staff will be not have to fear being disciplined or fired should they come out of the closet or transition on the job. Montrose Counseling Center’s Youth Services Specialist, Deb Murphy, is optimistic that the change will make it easier for students to organize Gay Straight Alliances. “In the past, students would have an uphill battle trying to find a sponsor for their group because GLBT HISD employees were afraid to come forward.”

On Saturday, Sept. 17, 2011, Montrose Counseling Center will host “2011 Voices of Houston Houston LGBTQ Youth Summit: Taking Back Our Schools” in the GLBT Cultural Center at 401 Branard St. The day-long workshop will help youth connect with one another and learn the skills they’ll need to create change and make their schools better. “We like to refer to it as ‘in-person social networking’ for the youth,” quips Murphy.

Registration opens July 18 at The event is open to all Houston-area GLBT and Questioning youth, and their allies, and is being underwritten by The Diana Foundation. GLSEN Houston, the Texas GSA Network, and the University of Houston also are involved with the planning and resource materials. The workshop is free for participants age 18 and younger, but there is a $15 fee for adults. School faculty and staff are welcome to attend.

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